Category Archives: Wildlife

NRF Joins Year of the Bird

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, the most important bird-protection law ever passed. This 100-year-old law laid the groundwork for bird-protection initiatives throughout the country. To celebrate, National Geographic and Audubon Magazine have joined forces with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and BirdLife International to establish 2018 as the Year of the Bird. We would like to take this moment to recognize Wisconsin’s particularly successful endeavors to...

Tracking Wisconsin Snowy Owls

In December of 2017, responding to an urgent plea from bird researchers in Wisconsin and our fellow conservationists at Project SNOWstorm, we raised enough funding to outfit two Wisconsin snowy owls with tracking devices. Thanks to our generous donors and a sponsorship from Wisconsin Public Service Foundation, we now have two snowy owls we can (almost) call our own! Badger, the first Wisconsin snowy owl Badger, a young female, was the first snowy owl captured...

Tracking Wildlife on Madeline Island

We saw the sun rise over Lake Superior as we passed Washburn, Wisconsin on our Northland College research team made its way to the Madeline Island Ferry. To our surprise, our van was the only vehicle on it. The lake was cold and calm. When we reached our destination, we drove off down the road to check on our camera trap network. Thanks to the funding provided by the C.D. Besadny Conservation Grant Program, we...

Building a home for insects

Insect family seeks cozy home in quiet neighborhood… Insects aren’t so different from us; they too need a safe space to grow and raise their young. While many of us may have a tense relationship with insects, they are crucial to any healthy ecosystem—from our yards and gardens to forests and prairies. Even farms and orchards rely on beneficial bugs to keep crops healthy. But insects are finding it more and more difficult to find...

Protecting Snakes in Wisconsin

Rattlesnakes, like Wisconsin’s native eastern massasauga (Endangered in Wisconsin and recently added as a federally Threatened species) and timber rattlesnakes, usually get a bad rap in society, and are often portrayed as creepy, deadly pests. But these animals play a critical role in maintaining Wisconsin’s diverse ecosystems. The Human-Snake Dilemma In Wisconsin’s early history, expansion of settlements called for the draining of much of the marshy wetlands in which the eastern massasauga thrived, leaving this...

Long-term study to assess recovery of Wisconsin loons from mercury and lead exposure

There’s something haunting about the beautiful call of common loons. This sound, however, nearly vanished from Northern Wisconsin as a result of mercury and lead poisoning and hunting, all of which devastated loon populations starting in the late 1800s. Since then the federal government has taken steps to bring these birds back from the brink and conservationists in Wisconsin, with help from the Natural Resources Foundation, are conducting research to make sure those measures are...

Listening for Frogs: Volunteers lend an ear for the Frog and Toad Survey

It is a late night in June in Wisconsin’s beautiful Kickapoo Valley and I am straining to hear the calls of frogs around me. It’s not that they’re faint, it’s that there are too many of them, coming from the woods in all directions. I try to remember what a seasoned birder once told me—that picking one species out of the cacophony is a lot like training yourself to hear just the violin section of...

Bringing salamanders back to Mequon Nature Preserve

Seven years after staff at the Mequon Nature Preserve (MNP) in southeastern Wisconsin began a project to re-establish the hardwood forests that once dominated the landscape, they noticed wildlife returning. But while snakes, frogs, and birds had returned in abundance, one important resident family of species was still missing: salamanders. Farmland development, parking lot construction and other urban sprawl projects around the preserve had essentially closed it off, making it difficult for salamanders to find...

White trumpeter swans make an impressive comeback

Wisconsin has an astounding number of adult white trumpeter swans. These animals are the largest native waterfowl species in North America, and they’re quite the sight—beautiful white birds that stand five feet tall and weigh up to 35 pounds. As their name suggests, one sure way to know you are around a trumpeter swan is if you hear their loud trumpeter call. While the species may be thriving now, it has not always been that...

Restoring wild rice for waterfowl in the Mead Wildlife Area

By Patrice Eyers, guest blogger from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources As far back as one can imagine, the area that sits between Wausau and Stevens Point along the Little Eau Pleine River, has been cherished for its abundance of natural resources. In pre-settlement times, the Chippewa inhabited Smokey Hill, a forested island in the former Rice Lake. The river and the lowland marshes provided a bounty of white-tail deer, bear, fish, beaver, muskrat,...

A home for purple martins on Memory Lake

By Glenn Rolloff, Village of Grantsburg The Grantsburg, Wisconsin, area is surrounded by 1000s of acres of wildlife reserves including the 17,000-acre Crex Wildlife Area and the 14,000-acre Fish Lake Wildlife area. These large sanctuaries attract trumpeter swans, Canadian geese, sandhill cranes and even a lone garganey duck from far off Asia shores! The “big birds” certainly have a home. But nestled in the four square miles of Grantsburg Village is tiny Memory Lake. On its shores,...

Hunters of the sky and the human connection

By Jillaine Burton, Raptor Trainer and Educator, Open Door Bird Sanctuary Hunters of the Sky. What does that make you think of? Fighter planes? Pterodactyls? Drones? How about raptors or birds of prey? At the Open Door Sanctuary, we currently care for 11 raptors, all non-releasable for one reason or another, but still quite majestic in their own right. About 20 years ago when I first began to realize I had an affinity for nature,...

Better than Batman: Superheroic efforts to survey Wisconsin’s bats

By Lindsay Renick Mayer When the quiet of the night is interrupted by low, mechanical ticks, at first I almost miss it. “Big brown bat,” says Andrew Badje, a conservation biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, pointing to the squiggly lines moving across the screen of the noisy device he had hitched to the front of my kayak just moments before. I peer out over the lake to try to see the bat...

Protecting the state’s wood turtles, one garden at a time

By David Zeug, Foundation guest blogger Any day on the Brule River is a good day. What I didn’t realize when I heard the commotion behind me was that this November day was going to become even more special and lead to a fascination with the wood turtle. Like a buck chasing a doe, the turtles ducked and weaved through the woods along the banks of the river. Surprised by the behavior, I tried to...

Of birds and snakes on the Osa Peninsula

By Connie and Peter Roop, Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin members While hiking the Osa peninsula of Costa Rica with the Natural Resources Foundation, the deadly fer de lance, one of the most venomous snakes on Earth, slithered right between us. We looked at each other and agreed—it was time to make our will. We are both deeply committed to the natural world. So “naturally” we turned to the Natural Resources Foundation. We learned of...